There’s something to be said for the experience of seeing a mainstream theatrical production. They can often be expected to have a certain style and level of popular appeal, and often serve as a beautiful night at the theatre. On the other hand, some of the most innovative and moving performances can be found in unconventional theatrical forms, and that’s the focus of this week’s Cheap Theatre posting! After the jump is a list of several out-of-the-ordinary theatrical experiences currently happening in Toronto. Whether it’s a work in progress, or not a work of “theatre” at all, at $20 a ticket or less, you can’t go wrong with going out to see some Cheap Theatre!
Tales of… is a storytelling event that varies in theme from month to month, and on August 20th they’re getting raunchy with Tales of… NSFW – Not Safe For Work (acronym may not apply for those employed in the sex industry.) Co-producers Brian Finch and Erin Rodgers have got some big names from Toronto’s sex-positive scene to grace the stage with their true X-rated stories.
I asked a few of the storytellers to answer two simple questions:
- Can you give us a teaser as to what your story will be about?
- What do you like about storytelling and how is it different from/similar to other work that you do the realm of sex-positivity?
Here’s what they had to say. Read the rest of this entry »
By Samantha Wu
Tartuffe, the classic French comedy, is on stage at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto
Tartuffe, the classic French comedy by Molière originally premiered in 1664, is one of the world’s most famous comedies to ever be performed on the stage. In fact, it was become so popular that the term “Tartuffe” has made its way into both English and French dictionaries and is defined as “a religious hypocrite, or a hypocritical pretender to excellence of any kind.”
Taking to the stage at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts and translated into English by Richard Wilbur, the diligent cast at Soulpepper have breathed vitality and tenacity into this already fast paced and physically demanding play for two and a half hours of seriously funny theatre.
Summerworks is over – we’re just as sad as you are, and we can’t do anything about it. But we can still tell you all the other theatre that’s going on in the city! Anything you see that’s highlighted in red with two asterisks before it is highly recommended by Wayne, our Managing Editor. So get over those post-Summerworks blues by seeing some of the awesome shows that are still going on in Toronto this week!
By Mark Mann
Michael Rubenfeld is the kind of guy who easily turns his energy into action. “If I find myself complaining about something that I think is missing, that’s when I realize that somebody just has to do it,” the artistic producer of SummerWorks tells me over coffee at the Theatre Centre on Saturday.
That’s the energy that drove Rubenfeld to create the Music Series at SummerWorks three years ago, pairing musicians and theatre artists for innovative hybrid performances throughout the festival, and now it’s pushing him and his collaborators to start Progress, a brand new multi-arts festival of performance and ideas launching February 4-15.
By Mark Mann
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most surprising. Écoute pour voir at SummerWorks is so straightforward you might just miss it: dancers pair off one-on-one with audience members, sharing a single iPod with two sets of headphones. Don’t shrug off the modesty of this concept—the performance is as beautiful as it is candid, and utterly satisfying.
Linnea Swan is candid: her Re-View Project is not going as planned. This ambitious attempt to launch a critical conversation about criticism and its impact upon theatre artists, theatre festivals and theatre audiences is gasping for attention, swamped out by a million and one other SummerWorks projects. (On the night I stepped into her Re-View Booth, I was one of only three names on her four-hour appointment list.)
As she expressed it to me, her project is as much about conversations as about criticism: we already have plenty of forums for artists to talk to and about other artists, but how often do we hear laypeople talking about theatre? When we talk about “audience development”, are we talking about engaging these people in conversation, or just treating them as potential butts for our seats? Read the rest of this entry »
Walking out of If Hearts Could Bloom, one hears the inevitable remark: “I felt like my heart did bloom!”
I’m sure the cast — students at Burr Oak Secondary School — have heard that line plenty. They probably heard it at school; they probably heard it at the Sears Ontario Drama Festival, then again at the Sears Festival finals; and now they get to hear it at SummerWorks, where their bouffon play about individuality and identity is driving audiences to tears and laughter.
By Mark Mann
Zeesy Powers didn’t trample all over my soul like I thought she would. The way my heart was beating when I went into her show I Will Tell You Exactly What I Think of You at SummerWorks, clearly I suspected her of some terrible genius for laying people bare and confirming their worst fears. Thankfully, the show was much more interesting than whatever my fragile ego had in mind.
I Will Tell You Exactly What I Think of You is pretty much exactly what the title suggests, except that Powers doesn’t appear to take any weird relish in being blunt or authoritarian. Performed in a talk-show format and live-streamed on the Internet, participants place themselves opposite Powers and submit to hearing some honest commentary.
By Wayne Leung
The issue of human smuggling surfaces in our collective conscience once in a while if a particularly horrific news story breaks when a boat load of refugees sinks or a shipping container full of dead would-be migrants is discovered. We wonder what kind of desperation would compel these people to pay smugglers exorbitant amounts of money to make such a perilous journey. The Container, a site-specific play staged inside an actual shipping container in Toronto as part of this year’s SummerWorks Festival shines a light on the stories of these individuals.